The term education technology may seem straightforward— mashing the two together in order to embed information technology in education. However education technology, or EdTech, covers a wider breadth of subject areas, doing more than just improving educational capabilities.

Through the use of technology in education, teachers are better able to meet the varying needs and skill levels of their students, as well as manage classroom tasks more efficiently. Once cemented by the demands of a physical classroom, EdTech has also provided new spaces for educational opportunities to blossom, regardless of geography.

The use of technology in the classroom to enhance teaching and learning uses innovative and cost-effective methods, prioritizing genuine interaction and engagement while preparing students for an increasingly digitized world. 

Today we’ll be conducting a deep dive into the ins and outs of education technology: what it is, how it is being used in the classroom and education sector, and how educators and students can receive maximum benefits by adding this technology into their learning environment. 

We’ll also explore future EdTech trends coming down the pipe, as well as the ideal setup of gadgets for establishing an online presence in the classroom.

What is education technology?

Education technology is the advancement of education, teaching and learning through the use of technology. It encompasses all software and hardware utilized to educate students on a virtual level, ultimately improving learning environments for the better through online means. 

When working in tandem, education and information technologies not only facilitate an understanding of technology among students, but also improve educational outcomes through increased engagement. Google Classroom and other learning management systems are often seen in a standard hybrid classroom environment, and EdTech also encompasses games, hardware.

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EdTech also allows for more accessible education. With more than 258 million children, adolescents, and youth worldwide reportedly out of school as of 2018, EdTech fills the gaps for those without access to a classroom and encourages improved attendance. With the help of technology for teaching and learning, distance learning and EdTech platforms help to combat barriers for students to receive a fulsome education.

How is technology used in education?

Technology has become a presence in the classroom in a number of ways, from serving as the platform students use to access assignments, to enabling participation from students who need to learn from home, to helping educators teach in new ways with games and tech-forward activities.

With a school system full of digital natives, access to technology has improved student engagement in class and opened up new ways of learning. The hybrid classroom is utilized in a way that grants students the opportunity to take on a more active role, with increased responsibility in directing their education.

Technology used in online education across varying age levels and grades through online courses and self-paced learning resources, which provide the optimal smart classroom experience when blended with in-school teachings. This also helps to create space for enjoyment and collaboration throughout the learning process.

EdTech Around the World

Many countries provide cost-effective solutions for students faced with financial difficulties or who are unable to afford EdTech equipment. Australia lends laptops to its students, while Bulgaria provides students in grades one through ten with free online textbooks. An even wider range of countries including Argentina, Croatia, and Fiji broadcast free educational programming on national radio and television.

How Technology Can Help in the Classroom

EdTech equips teachers to meet the various skill levels and demands of their students, providing opportunities to craft personalized lesson plans in order to meet individual needs. Those with special needs and specialized learning plans can access the tools they need to succeed in class thanks to advancements in classroom tech.

Education technology companies continuously produce new forms of software, hardware, and equipment, improving both synchronous and asynchronous learning capabilities in the classroom and at home. 

Top EdTech companies such as Chegg offer students online textbooks, reducing associated classroom costs as well as eliminating concerns to do with shortages of class resources. EdTech products like smart video cameras (including the Meeting Owl Pro) allow students to feel seen and heard when participating in class remotely.

Ways Teachers Use EdTech

The introduction of EdTech to the classroom not only creates spaces for more interactive learning, but also allows for the incorporation of alternative teaching strategies. Traditional teaching methods are disrupted for the better by making use of common technology, such as laptops and tablets and meeting students where they are on the tech they’re already comfortable with.

1. Collect Data from In-Class Quizzes and Games

Teachers now have the power to collect real-time results from digitized quizzes and tests thanks to EdTech apps that relay this data, while also saving precious time on student assessments. 

2. Improve In-Class Engagement

Students remain included in classroom activities no matter their location with the utilization of platforms such as Engageli. The software offers teachers the ability to run both live and pre-recorded classes and allows students to digitally sit together in breakout groups. This makes up for lost social interaction otherwise achievable with students physically present in class.

3. Monitor Students’ Engagement in the Classroom

Monitoring students' attention spans throughout remote learning is made easy with EdTech applications like Class Technologies. Proving especially beneficial in tracking student engagement levels, it’s Focus Tracking feature allows educators to see when students don’t have Class open as their primary app. Redirecting attention back to the lesson and it’s course materials, keeps students engaged and on track with their learning progress.

When introducing students to new technologies in the classroom, it’s important for educators to provide students with ample time and opportunity to get accustomed to using EdTech software. Thorough training and preparation with new tech prevents future classroom hiccups, as well as makes students feel included and on the same page as their classmates.

Ways Students Use EdTech

One of the most beneficial uses of EdTech is that it grants students educational ownership. When assigned digital projects such as multimedia videos or audio assignments,, this encourages students to get creative with technology, while making class assignments relevant to the digitized world. It also educates students about the importance of becoming informed netizens and more intentional with the ways they consume media and information.

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A smart classroom may also involve gamifying classroom activities and lessons with EdTech. This lends to the concept of gamification theory which suggests learners learn best when having fun. Gamification also provides opportunities to collaborate, learn by doing and problem-solving, and develop healthy communication among classmates.

While pupils may be somewhat restricted when following lesson plans and course materials, EdTech creates space for self-directed learning. This is often a crucial component for students who require a slower pace to retain information or grasp core concepts. Self-directed learning at home also provides increased in-class class time for student collaboration, group projects, and valuable social interaction.

EdTech and COVID-19

Although education technology was originally intended as a single component within hybrid classrooms, the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly repositioned EdTech software and equipment. As teachers pivoted lesson plans to be designed for remote learning, this proved especially difficult for younger students, who benefit from the structure, guidance, and social interaction of in-person teachings.

If there’s anything the pandemic taught us about the usage of education technology, it is the importance of using EdTech deliberately and with intention, in a balanced format. Using education technology in a way that enhances the in-class learning experience for students and educators, is the most effective way of keeping the amount of screen time in check, while maintaining a healthy level of engagement.

Future EdTech Trends to Watch

Many EdTech trends predicted to manifest in the future are already beginning to appear, such as  the emergence of accessible education. 

Free + Open Source Educational Resources

Open source educational resources will continually be made available to students. Free and accessible learning and research material not only reduces costs for students but can also break-down complex information into more digestible formats.

VR in the Classroom

The presence of virtual reality (VR) in classrooms will become more prevalent, although we are already seeing it’s presence in the educational sphere. With the value of augmented reality in education set to reach $700 million by 2023, virtual reality will be at the forefront of delivering immersive experiences to the classroom. Covering a diverse range of subjects from history to chemistry, students can now view 3D depictions of dinosaurs or the human body, something a PowerPoint slideshow could ever do. 

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AI in the Classroom

This also includes artificial intelligence. Tools such as voice assistants and chatbots are easily adaptable to home and school environments. 

A Data-Driven Educational Curriculum

An increase in data-driven insights will also become more prevalent in future trends. The pivot to remote learning equaled reduced supervision during test taking and quizzes, as well as the ability to keep students’ attention from waning due to screen fatigue. Data and analytics will help to provide valuable information regarding student behavior, and interaction with educational content.

Finding Balance in EdTech

The future of education technology is exciting, and has assisted in navigating the abrupt transition to remote learning amidst the pandemic. It proves beneficial in making education more accessible to students facing barriers, whether those be mental, physical or geographical. It also helps reduce costs associated with education, including textbooks and learning resources. 

While we may at times push the limits of what is considered too much screen time, finding the right balance both in and out of the classroom setting, is key to achieving the maximum benefits from EdTech.

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